Regency England — The World of Georgette Heyer

I first heard of British writer Georgette Heyer through a librarian I knew who enjoyed reading her books to relax. “Pure escapism,” she would say. She didn’t seem like someone who would enjoy that author. I was intrigued about Georgette Heyer, though. I had never heard of her. In a review in the Guardian, a critic said Heyer took the plot of Jane Eyre and rewrote it one hundred times. Even so, the novels so far seem very lighthearted and enjoyable. I’m not so sure if the author was the same way in real life. I read Barbara Cartland a lot as a teenager, and apparently there was a rivalry between the authors.

I haven’t read a lot of Georgette Heyer, or much about Regency England, but I would read her again. For my first try at exploring her work, I went to my library’s e-collection. I chose Arabella.

No reader can resist Arabella–she’s smart, opinionated, funny, loves her family, and helps out where she can. She tries to see the best in people. For those she catches doing wrong, woe to them!  Although not of noble birth, Arabella has been given the gift of a London season from a school friend of her mother’s. Once there, by being true to her nature, she wins everyone’s hearts and changes lives for the good–including that of an obnoxious marquis, earl, or duke–I forgot his rank, but it doesn’t matter. For some reason, he is much admired by those in his circle.

You guessed it–Arabella turns his life upside down–after they annoy each other no end at their first meeting with their different views. They can’t agree on anything. And it takes him forever to realize that he loves her. It doesn’t take Arabella an eternity to realize that she has romantic feelings for this man; she’s just cautious and wise. The nobleman bordered on oblivious–until almost the very end of the story. Oh, well. Better late than never.

The next book I tried was The Foundling. I strongly identified with Gilly (his full name is too long to remember), a young gentleman of noble birth who has many things expected of him from others. He feels a great responsibility for everyone. The trouble is, he’s never been allowed to make a decision for himself. He’s always had assistance from other people. He also feels that he doesn’t have enough real-world experience. So, one day he decides to leave his ancestral home–and then the adventure begins.

It actually sounded pretty good. However, in the first chapter, where Gilly returns from a local hunting excursion, I knew I was in trouble. It took me a month to get past the pages where he crosses the lawn and enters the house.  Definitely not a good sign. I knew I had to leave it for another time.

My favorite catalog, Bas Bleu, sells many Georgette Heyer titles and a lot of other cool items. I got such a kick out of this entry from August 10, 2016 on their blog. I recommend it for smiles, grins, chuckles, and belly laughs: 16 Lessons We’ve Learned from Georgette Heyer. Enjoy!

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Filed under Fiction, historical fiction, Romance

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